However, the overall situation of Roma today is far from what I wish it to be. Far too many Roma are born without access to an identity, far too many Roma toddlers are left outside of the social and educational facilities available to the majorities, far too many Roma children are affected by abject poverty, do not attend kindergartens, and drop out too early from school. Segregation, low quality education, and special schools continue to be problems that disproportionately affect Roma.
Roma teenagers face obstacles to access high-schools or vocational schools that their non-Roma peers do not have.
Roma youth have unemployment rates that are many times higher than the average, Roma adults live in much higher percentages in poor and very poor communities, Roma women are victims of multiple discrimination and have abysmal employment rates.
European Roma live significantly shorter lives than the rest of us.
We are more and more aware of the many problems. And we have made some good progress.
At no time in history there were more Roma involved in high level positions in parliaments, governments and intergovernmental organisations and more public money spent trying to address the social exclusion of our fellow citizens.
We have policies, resolutions, documents and targeted lines of funding for Roma. The European Commission and the Council of Europe have played and continue to play a very important role in fighting anti-Gypsyism and addressing Roma social inclusion.
However, none of this is enough; and there is still much to do.
Together with the Special Representative for Roma Issues we decided for this year to make some clear commitments for the future. We will be more pragmatic in our approaches and will partner with our Member States to reach the following 10 goals for the next 10 years. We call them “10 for 10”.
1. No Roma and Traveller children without identity papers
2. Infant mortality rate among Roma and Travellers reduced by half
3. Roma and Traveller children have vaccination rates similar to the majority population
4. School drop-out rate of Roma and Traveller children reduced by half
5. Four times more Roma and Traveller youth will have a secondary school diploma
6. Three times more Roma youth will obtain vocational qualifications
7. No child marriage in Roma and Traveller communities in Europe
8. Number of Roma living in abject poverty reduced by half
9. Unemployment rates for Roma and Travellers reduced by half
10. Number of Roma and Traveller elected representatives in local or regional councils and national or international parliaments doubled
We have already started working on this. We put together a new concept of “Schools as Engines of Social Inclusion” that we are promoting based on a life-cycle approach, we are working together with the European Parliament, as well as with the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, on a review of an important European Charter against anti-Gypsyism and we have opened discussions with a number of Member States on some of the issues I mentioned.
Today should be not just a day to talk about the many problems but also a day to cherish an amazing culture that survived despite huge difficulties. A day for us, the non-Roma, to learn more about the many Roma that succeeded overcoming obstacles most of us never imagined.
Bahtalo ohto Avrilo savorenge ! (Happy 8th of April to all of us!)